From August 22nd to 24th, 2023, a training event inspection, quarantine and certification principles and procedures was organized in Djibouti City, Djibouti. This training has immense promise for the safe and prosperous trade of animals and animal products across the African continent. This pivotal training, organized by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), focused on empowering veterinarians and animal health professionals from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regions. Its core mission? Equipping these experts with essential competencies in the application of certification, inspection, and quarantine principles and procedures.
AU-IBAR has always been at the forefront of utilizing livestock, fisheries, aquaculture, and wildlife to catalyze economic development and improve the well-being of communities across the African Union's member states. Now, with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in full swing since January 1, 2021, the need for robust Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures has never been greater.
Under Annex 7 of the AfCFTA Agreement, the emphasis on SPS measures underscores the necessity to bolster legislation and regulations grounded in risk analysis, science, and international standards. This ensures the seamless trade of agricultural products among the 55-member states. The AU Heads of States endorsed the AU SPS Policy Framework and the Animal Health Strategy for Africa (AHSA) in 2020, marking a significant step towards facilitating intra-African and global trade, closely aligned with the SPS Policy Framework.
AU-IBAR has emerged as a leader in implementing the animal health component of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary project for Africa. Its primary objective? Building capacity among national veterinary services in ECCAS and ECOWAS regions, and the recent training in Djibouti City is a testament to this commitment.
The training covered a spectrum of critical areas, starting with certification procedures. These procedures, as per the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) terrestrial code, are pivotal for ensuring safe trade practices. Participants delve into the intricacies of maintaining the professional integrity of certifying veterinarians, adhering to certifying veterinarian conditions, mastering the art of preparing international veterinary certificates, and even exploring the world of electronic certification.
The significance of veterinary inspection cannot be overstated in the world of trade in animals and animal products. It is the bedrock upon which the regulation of such trade stands. Veterinary inspection confirms that animals destined for trade exhibit no signs of infectious or contagious diseases. This inspection also involves subjecting animals and their products to required tests and vaccinations, thereby enhancing the safety of trade. Regular inspection practices, unwavering adherence to hygiene standards, and meticulous record-keeping all contribute to the effective implementation of these vital procedures.
Quarantine principles and procedures are equally vital, and they form an integral part of this training initiative. Quarantine facilities and stations, strategically positioned along borders and transportation hubs like seaports and airports, play a pivotal role in preventing the transmission of pathogens during observation and testing periods. Quarantine, designed to protect territories from the introduction of diseases, is a cornerstone of animal health services' activities.
By offering practical insights through a field visit to the Djibouti quarantine facility, AU-IBAR aimed to provide participants with firsthand experience in implementing these crucial measures.
Speaking during the opening remarks, Chief Veterinary Officer, Djibouti, Dr Moussa Ibrahim Cheikh noted that: “Djibouti is highly indebted to AU-IBAR for all capacity building provided to its veterinary staff since 2014, under the STSD project, SMP-AH project and now SPS Africa project. This has enhanced the performance of our workforce in the provision of veterinary services”
In conclusion, the recent training in Djibouti City, Djibouti, has ushered in a new era of expertise and competence among veterinarians and animal health professionals in ECCAS and ECOWAS regions. Empowered with a deep understanding of certification, inspection, and quarantine principles, these experts are now well-equipped to effectively control the Sanitary and Phytosanitary status of animals and animal products. As the African continent embarks on an era of increased trade through the AfCFTA, these capacity-building efforts are indispensable, ensuring not only the health and safety of people but also the prosperity of both human and animal populations.